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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Halting the 'Holiday Blues'

Monday, December 3, 2007

There's two weeks to go before the family Christmas and the shopping is not completed.

In addition to not being done with shopping, the stress at work continues to mount.

Sleeping has become intolerable, a failed memory. Fatigue is setting in.

The holiday blues are setting in, and they are not uncommon.

"(People) need to know it's real common to have the holiday blues," according to Hamilton Center Clinical Therapist Rhonda Earl.

There are several symptoms one may experience when dealing with the holiday blues. In addition to fatigue and sleeping problems, other symptoms include over-eating, stress and "just feeling down," Earl said.

Earl has been with the Hamilton Center, 1211 E. National Ave., Brazil, for a year-and-a-half. Prior to coming to Brazil, she worked in the field for Educational Family Services in West Terre Haute.

Earl said dealing with those who are experiencing holiday depression is nothing new.

"The clients that have a history of depression or anxiety," she said, "right before Thanksgiving, they report their symptoms are worsening.

"The client load I have, I'd say probably 75 percent of the clients I have tell me their symptoms are worsening."

Earl said some people have a difficult time dealing with the added stress that comes with the holidays. She said typical sources leading to holiday depression include:

* Extra activities,

* Financial stressors,

* Over-commercialization, and

* Relationships.

"These demands often lead to stress, fatigue and unrealistic expectations of one's self," Earl said. "We've got all these activities. We can't add more hours to the week."

She said the spirit of the holidays is "often ignored," and added that people who have experienced the loss of a loved one adds to possible relationship issues during the holiday season.

"But don't deny the loss of the relationship," she added. "Family traditions change and that's OK. The holiday season does not eliminate feelings of sadness. It's OK to have those feelings.

"You can't force yourself to be happy just because it is the holidays."

Earl said a common thought is that suicide rates increase during the holiday season. However, she said that is a myth.

In fact, she said suicide rates increase during the spring months, according to statistics.

"That surprises a lot of people," she said. "But when you have a myth and believe it, you pass it around."

Earl said it is important to make the distinction between the holiday blues and clinical depression.

"If the symptoms persist at least two weeks or longer (after the holiday season), than you definitely need to talk to a doctor. You may be suffering from clinical depression, not just the holiday blues," Earl said.

She said people that feel they are experiencing the holiday blues just need to take a step back.

"It's important to make time for yourself," she said. "Take a breather. Some people think they have to do it all. Take time for yourself."

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